You won't believe this backyard before and after makeover that we did ourselves – and SAVED over $10,000 doing it. See how we did it here!
I'm not gonna lie, saving $10,000 by doing most of this project ourselves was not. easy.
And I'm also not going to tell you we did it all for $100.
Not even close. At all. Crazy.
Several years ago when we moved to Ohio we knew we wanted a pretty patio to enjoy. We love spending time outdoors, and have a beautiful yard but missed the outdoor space we'd had in Alabama.
(Our Alabama backyard – see more pictures HERE. We loved that yard!)
So when we moved to a new home in Ohio we were shocked at the lack of landscaping (goodness, we had no grass!) for our first summer. For a jillion reasons we were unable to get sod or any kind of green stuff in our yard all summer long. We moved to Ohio in May, and here's a peek of what our yard still looked like in August.
(In Alabama this would have been unheard of ~ to say it was a long summer for our 3 kids with no play area outside is an understatement!)
But we learned a few things (isn't there always something to learn?). Many nights we'd head outside, walk around our rocky yard (it was so rocky that you could hardly walk without wearing hiking boots) 🙂 and imagine what we wanted for our yard.
(this is that same yard in the above picture one year later after grass and we added stone – amazing what a year will do!)
We slowly started picking up all the rocks that were in the yard (because we knew the landscapers who were handling the sod wouldn't take care to remove smaller rocks), and ended up with a huge pile of stone that we could work with.
Not knowing what to do with all that stone, we decided to slowly create a bed around one of our first raised beds of flowers. We didn't spend a penny (other than our labor), and while it doesn't look at all like many of the beautiful stone borders I've seen, it does look much better than nothing at all (and it was free! I love free . . . )
When we moved, we budgeted immediately some moo-lah for this (backyard living spaces aren't cheap!) and got a few estimates.
Since our kids were getting older, we knew that we wanted the space pretty quickly so that we could enjoy it while our kids were still at home. We've always been pretty patient and usually wait several years before tackling major home projects, but since we'd budgeted for this from the day we purchased the home, we knew it was something we wanted to tackle pretty quickly.
We didn't need any crazy water features, an outdoor kitchen, or swimming pools, but wanted a seating area for outdoor dining and of course the fireplace (we chose this over a fire pit!).
One of the biggest things I struggled with when we moved is that after 18 years of marriage we'd pinch our pennies to re-do three homes to varying degrees, and I just hated to start again after feeling like our home was almost done.
We really planned to stay in our Alabama home forever so the move was tough! When we looked for homes here we made sure we had money set aside for the backyard and office updates which has helped so much. I'm so glad we did because it's made these updates much more manageable!
So, we got an estimate from a landscape designer for our outdoor living space last summer, including the patio, deck, landscaping and a fireplace (knowing that we would likely do some of it ourselves.)
However, when the estimates from the landscape architect all came in between $22,000 and $24,000 (YIKES), we knew we'd be doing quite a bit of it ourselves! We did hire someone to put in the stamped concrete patio, but tackled everything else on our own.
How much does it cost to redo a backyard?
This is going to vary based on how much you're wanting to transform your backyard and also as well as how much you're willing to do yourself. The more you can do on your own, the more money you will save as you create your backyard before and after.
Here's how our backyard makeover before and after came together.
After tackling the flower bed on the side yard, our next big goal was to get a small deck added to the back of the house and add a stamped concrete patio. As I shared last time, we did most of the work ourselves, but did hire a company to lay the stamped concrete, as that was too big a project for us to take on ourselves.
We chose stamped concrete instead of pavers because of the long term maintenance (we didn't want to eventually have to weed between pavers), and my husband had heard that pavers sometimes shift. Stamped concrete can be considerably less expensive than pavers, so we decided that was the best option for us. (I do absolutely love the look of pavers, but am pretty pleased with the way the patio turned out!)
After the patio was laid, it kind of looked to me like it hovered too high above the ground and I just wasn't sold that we'd done the right thing. My (wise!) husband assured me it was going to turn out perfectly (I so didn't trust him!), but after adding in stone and landscaping, he was absolutely right.
It took about two days (and a jillion trips back and forth to pick up new stone) for the kids, James and I to complete the flower bed around the patio. Once it was finished, we added landscaping (the difference landscaping made was huge!) and since James and I are both pretty addicted to landscape nurseries, we had the best time picking out the right plants. (See how we're keeping those flower beds mostly weed free over HERE.)
Neither of us have any real background in landscaping (other than what we've done as we've moved from house to house to update the yard), so this was probably the biggest job we tackled. Honestly, once the bed was done planting it was easy and is one of those things that you can do yourself and feel so rewarded when you're finished.
I'm in love with the funky Japanese Maple we found for the center of the back, and we've always loved Stella D'oro Daylilies so we picked a bunch of those as well. We both thought the the lavender in bloom was so pretty (see it above), and I'm so pleased that now that the lavender's no longer bloom those Stellas are taking over. So fun to play with pretty plantings!
The big project (um, huge) has been that fireplace – this one has been a monster project for us.
Like I said, we still spent a bundle, but saved a ton. There were a few things that we paid more for than we probably had to, but for us they were worth it for the convenience. So, just to be honest with you all, here's what we spent (which is still so much, but added value to our home and we already enjoy it so much!)
But, I am going to tell you that if you're willing to put in some serious work and researching you can save a bundle by doing home projects yourself.
To make my life easier (uploading these pics separately was nuts!), here's a video of how the actual fireplace took shape.
A few notes on the video:
- We saved $500 by pouring the concrete foundation for the fireplace alone – it was a lot of work but took about 2 hours so we figured James and I made a $125 hour rate and a little exercise too.
- The stone for the hearth was HEAVY. It was a miracle James & Jackson were able to move it into place!
- The size of the original fireplace was fairly narrow, so James bought $20 in concrete block to beef it up a bit.Here's the before (remember?)And here's the after . . .
This is the view from our back porch before . . .
And here it is now after. . .
Here is what we spent on our backyard before and after:
- Semco Outdoor for Stone Fireplace Kit, Stone Hearth from Lang Stone, Cedar Mantel from Columbus Millwork, and fireplace stone and mortar from Reitter Stucco $6401 (looking back we probably could have done this for less by building the fireplace out of concrete block, but the kit made it much easier to build, which was worth it since it was the first time we'd tackled a project like this)
- Patio Landscaping – $1954 (included stacked stone around the fireplace, 5 trees, plants, topsoil, mulch ~ I can't believe this cost that much, but it went up fast!)
- Poured concrete patio $2800
- Stacked stone column $165
- Total = $11320
- Savings from $23,000 estimate = $11680
My amazing-fantastic-he-must-really-love-me-a-bunch husband has never tackled a project this large, but did just an incredible job. By working on smaller projects when we first were married he learned the ropes, and got his confidence up for this monster. I couldn't be more pleased with it!
While this was a lot of work, getting what we dreamed of was completely worth it (, and we were able to decide exactly how things would end up. We still have little tweaking to do, but I'm so proud of his work (along with his awesome sidekicks – our kids Jackson and Caroline were an amazing help, and we just paid them in half price Sonic milkshakes this summer!) 🙂
Have you tackled any major DIY projects in your home? I'd love to hear what you're up to!
I'd love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!) If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)
Looking for more landscaping posts? Here are a few:
- Our Alabama Backyard
- How To Keep Your Flower Beds Weed Free
- How To Create Beautiful Hanging Baskets On A Budget
- How To Reuse Plants For Container Gardening
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